Friday, May 11, 2007

The Way We Were

This old newsreel video clip from the Smoking Gun recalls the rules under which the Greatest Generation won World War 2. And the phrase "martyred" at the end of the video clip has an unaccustomed application.

While people may not want to return to the methods of World War 2, it is dishonest to pretend, as it is now fashionable to do, that Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill conducted war according to some high moral standard that the Bush administration has somehow betrayed. The current rules of engagement of Bush-Hitler would be unrecognizable compared to that waged by the Greatest Generation, and more to point, compared to warfare conducted by any other country in the world today. World War 2 was the era of unrestricted submarine warfare, unlimited attacks on enemy cities, the development of weapons of mass destruction to counter threats which turned out were nonexistent and the internment of thousands of Japanese-American civilians. One may or may not like the facts, but they are the facts.

One commentator remarked that the greatest public relations mistake the US military ever made was to show video footage of smart bombs used during Desert Storm. Far from understanding it as a breakthrough in reducing the "collateral damage" endemic to previous eras of warfare, the press understood the advent of guided weapons to mean that any subsequent collateral damage was actually intentional. Accidents might happens in their thousands on the highways, but accidents of the battlefield were presumed out of existence by "smart weapons". The term "war crime" came to be applied to any civilian deaths caused by US forces 'because they could have avoided them had they chosen to'. On the other hand the enemy was never adjudged guilty of a war crime because he fought with supposedly makeshift weapons, never mind that they were manufactured with sophisticated electronics and triggering devices. "A suicide bomber is the poor man's F-16". Did they attack a nursery or demolish a mosque. That's all right because they retaliated as only poor men can retaliate, ignoring the fact that VBIEDs or suicide backpack attacks are highly planned operations of war often conducted under covering fire.

But the biggest injury to the public debate was that the real image of war came to be superseded by fantasy. Many policy makers neither understood nor cared to understand the nature of war when they voted upon it. It is now common to hear people say, "I wouldn't have been in favor of the war in Iraq had I known it would be so horrible." They expected something else. Nor are their expectations revisable. The same individuals who oppose the war in Iraq will in a heartbeat propose that US forces be used to prevent the "genocide in Darfur", as if some parade down the desert or spectacular drop of airborne troops would effect the result.

War has been trivialized. Maybe it could not have been otherwise understood by a trivial age.


Blogger Doug said...

- Hang In There -

5/11/2007 04:58:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Mussolini Executed

5/11/2007 05:09:00 PM  
Blogger InlandEmpire said...

As Wretchard has said previously, we're playing patty-cake. Our media operations are pathetic. See Afghanistan: Hard fought battles between Taliban and coalition forces are resulting in civilian casualties as the Taliban burrow amongst civilians and are taken out by air strikes. The other side has a free pass to maim, decapitate, torture and hide amidst innocents, but when our side returns fire it is somehow transmuted into a war crime.

It's gonna cost us a city or two before we get serious.

5/11/2007 05:30:00 PM  
Blogger PeterBoston said...

Prager made the comment that the Greatest Generation has begat the Stupidest. The only thing I would add is that it appears that the Stupidest has begat the Moronic.

The good news is that the cycle will probably start again.

5/11/2007 05:37:00 PM  
Blogger amr said...

Wretchard, thank you. I have been making this point since Vietnam. When we fought the Japanese Imperial Army, my father was one, we fought no holds bared. We field executed German Army soldiers out of uniform when captured; not allowed now. We learned how to fight in WWII and finally in Vietnam but forgot all this in Iraq until recently. I suspect that our political concern for taking casualties was why we tried to stay behind the wire unless on patrol or major actions. Also in Vietnam and now Iraq there is no censorship of the media, so the military can/could not control the political ramifications of mistakes or violations made. I remember reading once that Eisenhower signed 600 death warrants for executions of military personnel who committed crimes such as murder and rape. The letters of notification to the families did not give the specifics of their deaths. Lesson learned for Iraq; none until Gen. Petraeus arrived on the scene. Lessons learned by politicians and the home front; none period.

5/11/2007 07:47:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...


re: Eisenhower signed 600 death warrants for executions

If you have a link, it would be appreciated.

In anticipation of contemporary cases arising with reference to US troops, I have been searching for WWII ETO US executions. At the moment, I have one study claiming 69 American executions and another claiming 96. Obviously, opinions vary.


5/11/2007 08:11:00 PM  
Blogger Fat Man said...

This is what you may call Gramscian

The left and its useful idiots in the MSM created the story of the "atrocities" and "war crimes" of American Soldiers in VietNam, in order to de-moralize American citizens and to give aid and comfort the communist side.

Who can forget John F@#$%ing Kerry's first bout with TV notoriety:

"... several months ago in Detroit, we had an investigation at which over 150 honorably discharged and many very highly decorated veterans testified to war crimes committed in Southeast Asia, not isolated incidents but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command.

"It is impossible to describe to you exactly what did happen in Detroit, the emotions in the room, the feelings of the men who were reliving their experiences in Vietnam, but they did. They relived the absolute horror of what this country, in a sense, made them do.

"They told the stories at times they had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, tape wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the country side of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war, and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country."


Please note that Kerry did not say that he himself had witnessed any such crimes, and further that he did say that: "It is impossible to describe to you exactly what did happen in Detroit." Why he was allowed to keep talking is beyond my comprehension.

Everything the US Military has done in Iraq has been a desperate attempt to avoid a repeat of these types of accusations. But the left and the media have used their best efforts to revive the meme.

The NYTimes ran something like 45 above the fold pA1 stories about abu grahib prison, turning it into a synecdoche for torture and barbarism, when in fact it was little more than fraternity initiation pranks.

Consider further all of the hysterical posturing about the Geneva Conventions and the "rights" of the detainees. Shouldn't we all know that the conventions are remnants of 19th century romanticism about 18th century warfare, and have never been complied with by any enemies of the US in the 20th or 21st centuries.

And, shouldn't the idea of granting civil rights to uncivilized non-citizens fighting the US in foreign lands invite guffaws instead of debate?

Until such time as the left has been defeated no American Army will be able to fight a war and win, and America will not be safe.

5/11/2007 10:50:00 PM  
Blogger buck smith said...

If we would adopt these tactics in Iraq, the place would be peace and love in six months tops.

5/12/2007 06:37:00 AM  
Blogger amr said...

Allen: Either my memory is wrong about the 600 death warrants Eisenhower supposedly signed or all of the executions were not carried out. I’m quite sure this was in an article in the pre Internet days and I would have remembered it because of the shock to me, as a veteran, about that number of the military who had committed death penalty worthy crimes. There has certainly been a lack of information about military executions during WWII except for Pvt. Eddie Slovik. Such info would have been withheld to prevent a demeaning of the US military or its use as propaganda by the Axis. 96 US military members were convicted of crimes and reported to have been executed during WWII from the web sites I visited, but I would expect that to include the Pacific front also. An example of what happened but seems unexplained was that Pvt. Eddie Slovik was executed for desertion in 1945 but he was the only soldier of the 49 who had been sentenced to die who actually was shot ( were the others hanged? Or sentences commuted?). So what was remembered by me may have been the sentencing of service members that were overturned or for some other publicly unexplained reason not carried out. I could not even find in over an hour’s search of the Internet, the number who were convicted of possible death sentence crimes.

5/12/2007 05:47:00 PM  

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